“Because I could not stop for Death, He kindly stopped for me; The carriage held but just ourselves And Immortality. ” Emily Dickinson
We live our lives in fragmented pieces and unfinished sentences. We struggle to be what we think we are supposed to be – what we think others expect of us. We listen to the cacophony of voices around us clamoring to be heard and forget to stop and listen for the one, still voice that matters.
Some die too young while they’re right in the middle of the clamor, and they leave other’s to figure out the pieces of their lives. I believe if they could come back they would tell us to forget the pieces, forget the chaos, forget expectations of others. Instead, they would tell us to slow down, let the sentences be finished. Listen to the one who knows us best.
Soul living begins with listening to the still voice in the quiet of our heart. It requires a down slowing and an attitude of waiting, of clinging to the good and settling into peace. Making room for love and living. Realizing that living your faith, making time for others, savoring the everyday is far better than existing to chase a dream that you can’t take with you.
Since the first of the year, it seems that we have had one funeral home visitation upon another. A couple of these were men who died too young. Both my age, one in a car accident and one in his sleep. Both Christian men who loved their families. Seeing them in pictures with their families and hearing others speak about them was a testimony of lives well lived. Lives that made room for love and living.
Death is no respecter of age, and it will come to all. When my time comes, I want those left behind to be able to say that I listened to the Still Voice, that I settled into the Peace that only he can give. I want them to see the finished sentences. I want them to know they were loved by my living.
That is what I want the lessons of 2012 to teach me: To realize that every day is sacred to my Lord, to not grieve and to let His joy be my strength.
So here I sit, finally, writing my end of the old and beginning of the new post. It seems the thing to do in this land of blogs. Not that I have to be trendy. But I do have to write because it’s part of my survival. If I don’t write my soul shrivels a little. If I took the time to captivate every thought in a journal it would be all consuming. But, if I let thoughts escape unpenned I lose some of the essence of me and my purpose. It has been a struggle.
For months, even years I imagined sitting in a room with a view and a writing table, penning great thoughts that would somehow work themselves into a publishing house. It seemed lofty on the one hand, but why not, on the other. Not working so I could write seemed frivolous. But that is what I wanted more than anything. Due to a series of circumstances this past year, I was given the opportunity of uninterrupted writing time. I have a room and a table and a view of my childhood home across the lawn. I’ve written very little.
Writing for me has always come from a place of pure joy. You have to give yourself up to the abandonment of the words and let them thrive. You have to look deep within and write from your truth. If you can’t it creates a word block. I’ve written, but not enough. Some of it I have enjoyed, but most of what I’ve written has been on automatic pilot because it has hurt too much to go deep. I’ve written a couple of things from the deep, but they weren’t for sharing. Even now, when I read them, I think I should throw them out, but I can’t because they are a truth I have to live with and they involve memories and hurt and realities that were ripped from my soul that shake me to the core. I wish the circumstances that birthed those words didn’t exist but it is my reality. And writing them did not bring me joy.
The irony of it all is that I chose Joy for my 2012 word. I know, everybody with a blog seems to pick a word for the year. Again, I don’t have to be trendy.
I tried to pick a word in 2011, but that year was such a blur that I don’t even remember the word. Due to my near death experience with pneumonia early in 2011 and the real death experience of my cousin in the late summer, I pretty much lost that whole year and as 2012 was approaching I was still struggling with living. I was a nervous wreck, until after the anniversary of my pneumonia had passed, that I would get it again in 2012. Even so, I was determined that the New Year would be better than the previous and I had so much to be thankful for. I had hopes that 2012 would be joyful. So I chose joy. Then, I almost promptly forgot that I had a word.
I was still struggling with extreme fatigue. And on top of that we were making fairly regular weekend trips to the Little House so we could help my parents. My husband was still a full time student and I encouraged him give up his three part time jobs for 2012 so he could focus on his dissertation and graduate already. I figured the sooner he graduated, the sooner I could finally rest. (My need to rest was not his fault, it was residual from the pneumonia wiping me out, but I figured he was the solution.)
Going to work was about all I could manage. I struggled daily to be motivated enough to care. Somehow people’s issues with their lawn furniture didn’t seem all that important anymore (I worked in customer service for an upscale garden furniture firm). I went through the motions but my heart just wasn’t finding the joy. My boss had known for about a year that my husband was to graduate in May, so it was pretty much understood that I’d be leaving sometime in the late spring or early summer. When we realized that my husband would not be graduating in May after all, we talked about when we should officially move. We decided to wait until December, but my boss didn’t think he could give me work that long, so rather than keep up an apartment on campus and the Little House near my parents two hours away, we made a major decision to move full time to the little house. Without jobs.
I cannot even describe the feeling of freedom I felt when the decision to leave my job in June was pretty much made for me. I somehow knew that God had been the one to really close the door. It was like a weight was lifted off my shoulders. It was a change that had been a year in the making. I had struggled to be on top of my game since coming back to work the year before, following the pneumonia. I knew I was stressed to the breaking point, but I couldn’t worry my husband because he needed to finish what he had started as that too was a God move. So we went out on faith that the money we had in savings would last as long as it needed to and that when the time was right God would provide the work. He has always provided our needs, so there was no reason to think he wouldn’t this time. I know there are probably those that don’t understand why we decided to take time off work, but we know it was the right decision and I don’t worry anymore about what others think.
Looking back at resigning, I realize the freedom I felt was a moment of pure joy. So, even though I pretty much forgot to focus on my word for 2012 and only gave it fleeting thoughts, I know that joy was present on the journey. There have been many parts of the journey in 2012 that weren’t so joyful. There have been many hurtful moments that have brought me to tears and anger. Yet, somehow the joy became the foundation that ultimately made the hurt bearable.
It is the same with the deep writing that I couldn’t share. Although it didn’t bring me joy, the foundation of joy made it bearable. If that is the only lesson learned in 2012, it is enough. The Joy makes the hurt bearable. And so we grow and move on.
Joy in Grace,
PS – come back tomorrow or the next day for Part 2 – there may even be a part three – we’ll see.
Early evening, that time between the end of the long day and the beginning of the nights rest, is my favorite time of day. It is the quiet hour. A time to reflect; to let my soul dream. A time to let go of the cares of the world and soak in the stillness.
As writers we need time to reflect in order to process all that we’ve seen and heard. A time to organize our words so they are ready to be used. A time to sift through the phrases and rearrange them just so.
Shades of Indigo
Indigo hues splash riotously across the melancholy twilight sky;
an artist gone mad midst the shades of dusk.
A fitting departure to the bittersweet time before the dark settles in.
Lights glimmer from humble abodes, sharing the comfort of the night.
I too shall settle in and savor memories of Indigo. (TLH aka Sadie – 11/2009)
“Let my teaching fall like rain and my words descend like dew,
like showers on new grass, like abundant rain on tender plants.”
How do we allow our words to descend like dew? Whatever your passion, or calling, if you write in any capacity, then you are a writer and you have words and they descend. Don’t we have a responsibility to make sure they are dew worthy?
This is the lake where I was baptized as a young girl and how it looks now. This picture is a reminder to me of the grace I’ve been given. It is a reminder that to whom much is given, much is required. It is a reminder that my words descend.
Falling into Grace,
Are you following the 31 Days – you can find other participants over at Nesting Place